Tier 3 infection areas, including Greater Lincolnshire, will be better placed to go into more relaxed restrictions if they accept mass testing support, health secretary Matt Hancock said.
The scheme has been initially trialled in Liverpool and Mr Hancock said it had brought cases down and allowed them to go into tier 2 from Wednesday.
He said the government gave tier 3 areas “a faster way out of the toughest restrictions to support them to come down the tiers”.
Councils will be able to claim £14 for every test done. He said the offer was available to all tier 3 areas and that the government already received “significant interest”.
“By using tests that can turn results around in under 30 minutes, we can identify and then isolate people who have COVID, including crucially, the one in three people with COVID who don’t have those symptoms at all, but who can nevertheless pass the infection on.
“If you have COVID without symptoms you can still infect others and that, of course, is a silent danger.
“You wouldn’t know that you’re risking lives around you and so, to anybody, if you’re offered a test, please take it — you might go save a life.”
Mr Hancock said he knew restrictions had “been really tough for people” but added “the good news is they have been working”.
He said cases in the last week had dropped by 30%. “This shows that the national restrictions have been successful.
“Through everyone’s actions in respecting the national lockdown, and through everything that people have sacrificed, we’ve reduced pressures on the NHS, we’ve brought down the number of coronavirus cases and we’ve got this virus back under control.”
Testing in universities began today and will see students, both those with symptoms and those without, voluntarily tested.
Health bosses in Lincolnshire previously said that a more targeted scheme, aimed at the highest priority groups such as factory workers and care homes, would be preferable.
Mr Hancock also announced the country now had 357million doses of seven different vaccines on order.
Prior to the briefing, Communities Secretary (and Newark MP) Robert Jenrick announced new planning laws to allow shops to stay open “long into the evening – potentially 24 hours in some places”.
It comes as the government looks to help people shop for Christmas and encourage people to get out.
Mr Jenrick said he wanted to ensure a “more pleasant and safe shopping experience” for all.
“Our priority at the moment is to get non-essential retail open and support them as much as we can,” said Mr Jenrick.